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Faith is defined as a belief in God based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof. Religion and science can be seen to oppose one another due to conflicts between people of those practices. In my world, I have a technocracy that has joined those opposing forces. Rather than religion competing with science, religion is science.

The universe is considered to be god itself, master of a grand design. The laws of that universe ( law of gravity, relativity, therodynamics, etc), are viewed as smaller deities under the main god. There are numerous gods who control the laws of the universe and define how it works. When humans study the processes and come to understand more through scientific research, these "gods" reward then by revealing themselves through that knowledge. New gods are constantly being discovered as scientific knowledge grows. This creates a polyester pantheon of gods, some of which are equal to each other or under the authority of a higher god. All of which is under the main deity, the universe.

This religion worships a higher power that values scientific achievement and discovery. It claims no moral authority of right and wrong, but supports progress. In this way, it eliminates faith by making dogma depend on testing theories and experimentation. How can I fine-tune this premise to make it work?

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    Might this be better on Worldbuilding? It doesn't seem like a Writing question.
    – Cyn
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 23:47
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    Yeah, it is. It would get closed in its current form. But here it's off topic.
    – Cyn
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 23:52
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    I think you meant polytheistic not polyester
    – Rasdashan
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 23:56
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it would be better suited on Worldbuilding, as Cyn suggested. (Side note though, I like the idea and I am doing something similar myself.)
    – PoorYorick
    Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 7:40
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    Also, @Incognito, if you want to know what would make it fit HERE, my guess is if you had "my world is like XYZ [paragraph or two giving key essentials.]... How much of this needs to be revealed in story?" or "How do my characters display [?? affiliation to different gods?]" or something like that -- about expressing/displaying evidence of the world that you've built. Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 13:39

2 Answers 2

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Speaking as a research scientist, one major refinement you would need is rejection of your gods. In 400BC, Aristotle published his theory of gravity; based on the notion that objects were composed of Earth, Fire, Water, and Wind. His theory was that the Earth component of objects wanted to be closer to the Earth, but Fire belonged to the Moon, so the Fire component wanted to return to the Moon, and the Wind is a friend of Fire, so it could help birds defy their Earth component, but not forever. One of Aristotle's notions was that because heavy things contained a larger Earth component, they would fall faster than light things.

Galileo, by experiment, cracked Aristotle's conception, proving him wrong about this; heavy things do NOT fall faster than light things.

Robert Hooke (not Newton) first proposed gravity was a force that followed an inverse square law; Newton then showed Kepler's laws of planetary motion followed such a law "pretty nearly", and claimed to have "deduced" it. But even then, it required a gravitational constant which Newton did not provide; Cavendish found a value for it 30 years later.

Einstein invented the principle of equivalence (of acceleration and gravity) and formalized that into general relativity; the modern theory of gravity. But even that is (to physicists) obviously in need of correction. GR is a theory of continuity and infinities, and thus incompatible with Quantum Mechanics and the Standard Model, and GR gives nonsense answers in extreme conditions that physicists do not believe are real. The only way forward is to quantize gravity, to make it compatible with the SM, and although many attempts have been made at this (Loop Quantum Gravity is one, String Theory a different one), none of them have figured it out completely (and these ideas may not ever work).

So where is your Aristotelian god of gravity? It should be dead and buried by now; nothing in it is a "true" discovery of how nature works, it is all speculation about the emotional life of inanimate objects! The only reason it took hold was on Aristotle's say so; just deference to authority.

But "proof by authority" is a logical fallacy, and deferring to authority is the worst thing I can DO as a scientist (short of lying). I don't mean the authority of civil law or policemen or FBI investigators, I mean deferring to scientific authority, telling me how genes work or how gravity works or how particle physics work or where my thoughts and emotions lie. Hint: It isn't in the heart! Though that was a true medical theory for many millennia. (The brain was thought to be a cooling mechanism, like a radiator, and hundreds of excuses were made for why brain injuries caused mental impairment, when thoughts and feelings obviously resided in the heart).

Scientific knowledge is not a nice even progression. Even now, particle physics has been floundering for decades with unresolved problems and arguments, because basically it has reached a size/energy realm where further actual experimental discoveries are out of reach. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) found one thing, the Higgs Boson, that fit into the SM exactly where it was expected to.

But the LHC was supposed to do a hundred times that; literally hundreds of physics papers were written about what it could find -- evidence of more dimensions, super-symmetry, new particles, new physics beyond the SM, dark matter particle candidates, inflaton particle candidates, and on and on and on. They have all fallen flat. Failed. None of them were right.

We have evidence of the Higgs, which we expected. Evidence of CP violations, which we also expected, before it was built. Better numbers on some things. But Super-Symmetry, crucial to String Theory, is 99.99% ruled out. No new particles. No new physics. Nothing about dark matter or dark energy or the rolled up dimensions of String Theory, not a hint.

So, in refinement, what do you do when a God is proven false? The job of a scientist is not to worship a principle, it is my job to do my best to find a crack in it and prove it flawed. It is my job to doubt results, to insist they be replicated or verified, and to show they were false, or to detect a scientific fraud was committed, or to show the other researcher was mistaken and didn't discover something new at all.

Being a research scientist is a distinctly irreverent job, I do not respect any authority except the scientific results when I agree they were done correctly. The two-slit experiments are irrefutable -- but that is, crucially, not because of who did them, but because anybody can do them, and we have!

Likewise, anybody can replicate Galileo's experiments, or re-do Tycho's astronomical observations, or check for ourselves Alfred Wegener's undeniable geologic and chemical correlations that were strong evidence for what he called "continental drift" (and was ridiculed and dismissed for 40 years, but is now the theory of plate tectonics).

Wegener is the poster child for the problem with your premise: His work was not rejected on religious grounds, it was rejected by geologists and others that had careers (and fame) on the line, lifetimes invested in plausible-but-wrong theories of "gradualism" and fixed continents that would be ruined if Wegener were right. Wegener's details and research did need much correcting, they seized upon that to dismiss him. But that was not scientific of them at all, it was an excuse to put down an irritant: His underlying hypothesis, that the continents were moving, was proven correct.

Good Scientists should not revere theories explaining the evidence, they should respect the evidence they cannot refute, after credible attempts have been made to replicate and refute it.

You need some mechanism by which the current gods can be overthrown, regardless of how many years have passed. Aristotle's views on gravity held for about 2000 years, yet he has been thoroughly discredited to the point of ridicule in about a hundred.

The "continental fixists" prevailed against Wegener, ridiculing him and preventing their students from even looking at his science, for all his life and 20 years after. Wegener died without getting any real credit for his work and the realization of principles that now pervade Earth Science. In the end Wegener was right, a genius, and all of them were wrong.

Science is messy, and because it is done by humans, emotions are inevitable and difficult to overcome. Physicists that have devoted decades of their careers to String Theory, and get all their money from String Theory, do not want String Theory to be put in the trash bin! And they have the power as senior scientists in charge of departments, grants, universities and research centers to make sure that doesn't happen, no matter what a cold assessment of their 'science' says about the hopelessness of String Theory corresponding to our reality.

That is the hallmark of religions on Earth, they are immune to logic and reason. 'Faith' is belief without evidence. If you want your 'scientific' religion to be anything different, you have to invent a mechanism by which dissent and argument and alternative evidence gets welcomed, a mechanism by which truth can prevail and David can defeat Goliath. Somehow, Wegener, standing alone, without reputation or fame, must be able to prevail against thousands that do have reputation and fame, just because Wegener is right.

Any kind of "reverence" for existing theories is directly contrary to this necessity, and will result in scientific stagnation and society mired in the attempted science and ludicrous logic of Aristotle 2500 years ago.

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You might want to read some Greek myths. Their pantheon represented deities, great and small, and each brook had its naiad. The supernatural infused nature.

You have what seems a credible religion. There exist religions that have no deity - just a philosophy. Wisdom religions promote faith in wisdom and intelligence. Faith need not involve deity at all - it is any belief held without supporting evidence and some are held contrary to existing evidence. Disproving faith often strengthens it.

A creator god who is the universe should not be difficult for a reader to accept. The Egyptian pantheon (I read too much mythology as a child) even has a god of chaos - Set, destroyer of worlds.

Pantheons have balance. One god pulls, another pushes. The equilibrium is what matters. Keeping the universe ticking will require cooperation between the deities, but it is their job and raison d’etre so the task is performed.

The worshippers who become aware of the new gods could act almost as the high priest of such.

Note I am construing literal gods here - might as well have some fun and create a good pantheon. Apollo was god of the sun before he acquired other responsibilities: healing, prophecy etc.

Read some myths and see how all was explained to the ancients and use any that apply to your scenario.

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